Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Food, Sex, Sleep and Knowledge

I am nearly finished reading Donna Tartt's Pulitzer-winning, fan-loving The Goldfinch. Reading this 700+-page novel along with (in  manuscript) Kathy Oddenino's upcoming novel, also with notes of Hippocrates, MFK Fisher, and various other pieces online - reminds me how much our mind can take in, and how much our mind wants to be fed, especially when we can appreciate a healthy appetite. A friend recently remarked that, while men are said to think about sex maybe once a minute, what she thinks about constantly is food! What research shows, and which makes sense to me, is that food, sex, and sleep (our survival basics) are what we humans think about most often. We know how we respond to cravings, generally speaking, as individuals and as people - humans. Do we know why? Isn't this one way we define "knowing what we want?" Self-discovery invites us to understand the levels of our consciousness, of ourselves, more deeply, more intimately, and the rewards are infinite. If we accept that it is our mind that creates our reality as we experience "reality," then it follows that what we feed our mind is also a basic survival need. Good food, good sleep, and good sex make us happy! As I continue to learn and appreciate, thinking and speaking are our highest, or most developed senses. Without thinking, none of the food, sex, or sleep would have the status they have in our world. Would they? Knowledge is both appreciated and often misunderstood, it seems to me. Knowledge is a gift to us, to our minds, to our evolving consciousness. This is why teachers, beginning with our parents, are to be honored, respected, and valued throughout their/our lives and beyond. Memories remain after those we love die. As I think of my parents and the snatches of memory that flash into my mind every day, I appreciate ever more what memory means to us, and how sharing our lives is a gift that keeps on giving, not just "in the physical."

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Scrimshaw - my new book!












    Scrimshaw by M E Martin

    Scrimshaw by M E Martin    |

Monday, March 03, 2014



A typeface based on copperplate style,
The maps of the heart show our provenance,
The journeys we’ve made, what we bring,
What we have gained.
If not scrimshaw
Scroll work
Carving bone or ivory
Harvesting whalers’
Handiwork, byproduct of
What our DNA brings forward
As if carved into our
Choices as we make them,
Once we open our eyes
As we take that one step at a time.

Don’t wait.

If scrolls are not read
When they’re ready they become relics,
Turned to stone and bone fragments
To be pieced together by
of another time,
Whiling away a present to seek
Seeds of a story they have


from my new book

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Just Thinking

If the energy of our mind as we share our thoughts, ideas, etc., is simply to persuade others to share our view, then we are already seeing ourselves as “different.” We can be set up and set off by the ingrained pattern of “mutual hostility” or competition (hidden or overt belief).  This is a way that our male mind has seen itself throughout time, in many lives, as our ego has formed, developed, and strengthened as we have created beliefs to define or support our perception of life (the meaning of life).  This is one image that shows our belief in what survival means, rather than evolution. This is a dual image and as we learn and grow as a consciousness we enlighten ourselves with the loving image of who we are  – of us as male and female, rather than simply male or female, in the positive light of our creation as evolving consciousness. We come to know ourselves not as the Lone Warrior battling all forces which may obstruct us from obtaining our Holy Grail, but as the Pilgrim seeking to know himself as one within the world but sent and created of the Spirit – to be in AND of the world in its highest expression as evolving consciousness.

The “lone adventurer” ready to set off into the big, wide world, the Great Unknown that is full of danger, adventure, possibility. It is the same image of when we choose to enter another physical life – with all of the chemical poetry in motion as energy beings, reviewing, sharing, communicating in all sensory ways, then choosing the portal of entry, with consent, and “taking the plunge,” with full excitement as a soul to Begin Again – to learn, grow, to Be. This is the same image parents must have, and children must have, as babies are conceived, born, and nurtured until the day a child sets off for the first day of school – the new adventure, the precipice of a new life in a big world of other children, peers, beyond what we have experienced before. First day of school, first moment of awakening to a new spark of knowing, of knowledge, the first tying of a shoe, the first taste of… whatever awakens that love within us, the first moment of pedaling the tricycle faster and faster into a speed where we feel the independence of movement in a new way; jumping off of a high dive, diving into a pool for the first time, having a first haircut, a first kiss, singing a first song, or hearing one we instantly love, that sings to our cells in a way not like the others. All are part of this amazing Universal language of love within us and which we share through our interaction as physical beings on this Earth with its own expressions that we share and honor as we learn to love.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Stoner - I like Gatsby AND this "Anti-Gatsby"

John Williams
University of Denver photograph
I just finished John Williams’ 1965 novel, Stoner, a novel John McGahern describes in his introduction as “this classic novel of university life, and the life of the heart and the mind.” It’s a powerhouse of a book – I imagine even for those who have less affection and affinity for “university life” or the pull toward both the flashy polish of Gatsby and the austere precision of Stoner than I have.  Williams’ precise use of words to convey so much so simply is a true gift and a rare one.  He captures the truth of personalities and the energy of their expression in wonderful and thoughtful ways, and by doing so offers an endless palate of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors to think about, appreciate, explore, and to learn from.  It is very sad in its seemingly relentless sense of isolation, yet reading Stoner is like an excursion into a certain kind of art gallery – old masters, the musty sense of reverence for “pure knowledge,” the life of the mind and of learning, and a persistent quiet reverie as the reader absorbs all that is happening in this intense microcosm which expands into a whole world and reverberates beyond. Love, lust, and learning all make an appearance, each given life in particular ways.  The “meaning of life,” of a particular life and lives, is laid bare for inquiring minds and hearts to know themselves. To read this is an honor – is to honor Williams for his creation, and to honor the gift of life itself, which we all share.  Without honor and the Values of the Spirit which begin with love and are expressed with a quiet but firm and growing dignity (which comes from learning and experience), we are left with sadness and the pettiness of confusion and the false power that the ego wields.  There is much poetic beauty in Williams’ language of “love becoming,” even as he describes the way the softness of snow, the whiteness of the sky suffused with snow, the permeating silence which invites the mind into a state beyond the nature it has known and experienced before.

The saddest thing to me may be what Tim Kreider wrote in his October 2013 New Yorker review - that wisdom is "perennially out of style." The popularity of the novel in Europe makes sense to me. Older sensibilities learn that loss does not necessarily lead to "failure."

“In his extreme youth Stoner had thought of love as an absolute state of being to which, if one were lucky, one might find access; in his maturity he had decided it was the heaven of a false religion, toward which one ought to gaze with an amused disbelief, a gently familiar contempt, and an embarrassed nostalgia. Now in his middle age he began to know that it was neither a state of grace nor an illusion; he saw it as a human act of becoming, a condition that was invented and modified moment by moment and day by day, by the will and the intelligence and the heart.” (195)
Something I wrote a few nights ago fit into the influence of his book more than I realized, until I read the last few pages.

                Spiralling into me.
The book between worlds
The pages
Walking the pages
As if struck by chords
Harmony falling
Sounding and falling
We are holding on
Thin wisps of light
Gleaming, powerful
Beaming like strings
                Into morning
A new day, hope
And words illuminated.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Love, Sweet Love

Ah, Christmas. There is no substitute for spending the holidays with family. There is no true substitute for family, however we may define it. In the days before Christmas and through the holiday, I thought a lot about love and what love means. I remembered holidays past, and people I’ve known and love – including, of course, my wonderful parents, givers of life. Flashes of memory ran through my mind as I drove toward the coast – memories of when we were children, the excitement of the holiday as we trimmed the spindly tree and thought of that land far away which was our “home,” where others were celebrating the holiday perhaps in snow or with Christmas Eve services and caroling and shopping and sharing all kinds of traditions. Our families had shopped for presents and mailed them at least six weeks early in hopes of the gifts arriving between the US and Nigeria “on time.” My brother was a child enchanted by the idea of Christmas, and gifts wrapped so beautifully, awaiting the unveiling on Christmas morning. He tiptoed around the tree, studying the presents and shaking many of them, thinking so intently about them and what they might hold. He was left with a profound impression of how much stuff there was and how many have so little.

As generations grow and change, such memories bring such pleasure as new ones are added and build upon one another – intertwining and stacking with beauty and care in the same way the gifts do, awaiting unveiling.

Making memories as we share each other’s company, getting a glimpse into each other’s lives as we honor the year’s passing and the new year beginning. “This is where we are now,” we say, silently.  “Isn’t it amazing!”

What each life means. My six-year-old niece, so full of joy, is a gift to me too, each time I am in her presence – as all children are.  I am reminded of the pure joy of being, and the happiness that is our true birthright. We share what is ours, if we truly enjoy life and appreciate what it means to give and receive, and love grows. Love is how we are designed to live and to grow, together, whether in physical presence or not. The energy of who we are, as love, lingers and lives, throughout the days, nights, throughout the year, until we meet again and whenever we meet, whomever we meet and become, if we are willing to accept it and share it.  Honoring (living) love as our greatest birthright and tradition is the greatest gift I can imagine. Choosing to love satisfies our soul and spirit like nothing else too. This may seem obvious, but what is obvious to me is what the world needs now is love, sweet love. Knowledge of the truth of love is an eternal gift to any mind.

Last night we watched a 2012 recording of the awarding of the Gershwin Prize to Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Among other wonderful performances, the program included Bacharach singing What The World Needs Now. A perfect tribute, and true always.

Monday, December 09, 2013


What can she “get away with”?

I’ve read this from critics about a virtuoso classics scholar who takes myths and writes new ones based on the structures of the old ones. What’s to get away with, when we are building on structures with meaning? Garnering awards on the one hand and being asked such questions on the other.

Artists of all kinds are asked these questions – or the critics, the public, ask them. What does it mean to “get away with”?

To me, the getting-away-with, in its best light comes from pushing a line of accepted tradition or story or image or belief a little beyond, or sometimes far beyond, where it has settled, and still gaining respect for the integrity of the internal form of creation, the life still humming. This is not crafting a machine, elegant as it may be, but the nourishing of a thought-form, which lives as it is designed and created  and which lives further through the interaction of sharing it – the reading, the seeing, the verbalization, the expectation and breathless anticipation then the birth, the ogling, the possibilities set free and the imaginations excited.

The art of “getting away with” shows when respect is earned through the expression – the individual power of the energy expression, the example of living and breathing form.
Turn to me, she says, though her expression is stoic. The playfulness is inherent, visible in the glow and the intimate knowledge when seen. Watch.

Perhaps Nelson Mandela did this too.  His mischievous nature and quick, bright, warm smile did not belie but was part of the ramrod straight, steel-willed man who was constantly open to examining his life and the purpose, the objectives for which he lived. He knew that the purpose of life was so profound, the purpose of what we devote our lives, our energies to, is so profound that to be willing to commit our energies totally to it, to living this primary focus is to be willing to die for the same purpose.  Our commitment to life and death is equal, as our honoring of change and growth and freedom is complete. The commitment is not separate, but total. And without playfulness, and a sense of humor about ourselves and life, joy is not complete.
Enlightenment of our minds from our heart’s total intention to love and to contribute to the external common and greater good is one of the greatest purposes we can have and live as human beings.

Does how we define freedom change with the times, with events in our lives? Isn’t this one definition of learning?

As Mandela said, yesterday I was a “terrorist.” Today I am accepted as a freedom fighter. More todays and he is accepted as a leader, president, even symbol. Today we have a history to view through many lenses and with many voices and visions. What we choose defines us.

How do we choose/decide except through the living?

Choice by choice, and the strength that comes from that freedom, brings us the power that is inherent in experience, the joy and sorrow bundled together with sparkles and tears, endurance and infinite patience.